Katsuhiro Otomo

No doubt many of you have seen Akira in anime format, especially considering that it was recently re-released. Much like the popular anime movie, the manga details the story of a biker punk by the name of Tetsuo, who is taken under military control when it is discovered that he is developing immense mental powers. But, his former friend, Kaneda, who befriends the young female operative Kei, clashes against Tetsuo and the military forces as he tries to kill the person who was once his ally and friend. Tetsuo's powers grow to an immense scale as he seeks out Akira, a child prodigy or immense power who has been cryogenically frozen to keep his own powers from destroying Japan and possibly the world.

Artistically, the manga is illustrated with a realistic detail. The characters all have style and posture all their own. Their mannerisms fall in line with the way they are portrayed and the story is visually told to a certain realistic (albeit futuristic) flair. Cities are sharply drawn and in later events, the magnitude of the disaster is deliver so well, that it's easily grasped by the viewer. In fact, the whole design and layout of the story is executed so well that very little is left to confusion. Where in most manga, fast moving action scenes are sometime a little too hectic to follow, everything in Akira is placed and visually explained so that the reader knows what's going on when it happens without multiple reads.

Even though a fairly large cast of characters exists, each character is well defined (even the lesser side-characters to a degree) in both visual appearance and emotional manner. Everyone acts realistically, as if this was taking place in a real world. There are no bold heroes rushing into battle for noble reasons. Everyone has their reasons for their actions, be it selfish or selfless. You can see the wounded ego of Tetsuo build as his power grows and his selfish jealousy drives his actions.

The story itself is paced well and is full of twists and surprises. Never does the telling of the tale ever seem weighted down with too much "science speak" or philosophy. In fact, the story moves at such a good pace that you might find it hard to put the book down. Slow parts break up one action-packed series of events, but only enough to give the reader a breath of fresh air and an ever deeper sense of the character's personalities and plight.

Akira is easily one of the most essential manga that every reader must at least read in their life. Viewing the anime will only give you an incomplete Cliff Notes concept of the whole story that is told with an intricate depth and firm grasp of developing science fiction in a real world.

- - Kinderfeld

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